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Social Work: Literature Reviews: Literature Reviews

Meet your Librarian, La Loria Konata

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students

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What is a Literature Review?

According to OWL at Purdue, "Literature reviews are designed to do two things:

  1. give your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea and
  2. demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study, in this case, social work"

Conducting and composing a thorough literature review is a process. It will require you to define and refine your topic, gather basic background information, then search for and locate published books and articles. You might end up researching not only your direct topic, but related threads of research. Once you've found sources, you will have to analyze and synthesize them into review form.

Your literature review will explore findings and trends in the research on your topic, and will also offer your commentary on any gaps, bias, and additional areas for exploration. Your thoughts on the material are essential to the review; you are not merely listing and abstracting all existing research.

Several excellent guides that provide step-by-step information are linked in the box on the right.

Literature Review Books


Galvan, J. L.  (2006).  Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences. (3rd ed.).  Glendale, CA: Pyrczak. Ref. H61.8 .G3 2006  Circulating copy in stacks. 

Aveyard, Helen. (2014), Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: a practical guide. (3rd ed). Maidenhead, Berkshire : Open University Press, RA440.85 .A949 2014 (LN3).

Pan, M. L.  (2008).  Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. (3rd ed.).  Glendale, CA: Pyrcazak.  Q180.55.E9 P36 2008

Rosnow, R. L. & Rosnow, M.  (2009).  Writing papers in psychology.  (8th ed.).  Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.  BF76.7 .R67 2009

Have I searched thoroughly?

Often researchers conducting literature reviews feel unsure that their review has been thorough enough. Here is a list of all the places you should consider checking. Not all will be relevant for your search, depending on the topic.


Journals Collections/Databases

  • Check the list of social work databases listed here.

Newspaper Collections/Databases (if relevant)


Book Catalogs

  • WorldCat - is the world's most comprehensive bibliography with bibliographic records representing information spanning 4,000 years of knowledge.
  • GIL Find - GSU's Library catalog.

Dissertation and Thesis Collections/Databases

Librarian - Asst Prof

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La Loria Konata
La Loria Konata
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